If your dog looks sad when you leave, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you eight common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my dog look sad when I leave? Possible reasons why your dog looks sad, when you leave, are separation anxiety, hunger, needing to pee, boredom, or having learned that the behavior is rewarded.

It is actually possible that there is a combination of causes at play. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main causes and there are many things you can do about them.

Reasons why your dog looks sad when you leave

Below are eight possible causes and what would make each of them more likely. 

Separation anxiety

The reason could be that it has separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and it gets anxious when it is left alone. This would be more likely if it has started doing it since you have been leaving it for longer. It would also be more likely if it starts getting anxious when you normally leave home.

Boredom

Another possible cause is that it gets bored when you are away. This would be more likely if it does it more when it is not able to get exercise before you leave home. In this case, it might help to try and exercise it before leaving home and to make sure that it is getting the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

Hunger

The cause might also be that it is hungry and it does not want to have to wait a long time before being fed. This would be more likely if it is only sad when it has not been able to eat yet. In this case, it could help to feed it before leaving home instead of after.

Needing to pee

Another possible cause is that it often needs to pee while you are away and it does not want to have to wait. In this case, it would help to ensure that it gets a chance to pee before leaving it. 

Encouraging the behavior

It could also be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards if it looks sad when you’re leaving. If you tend to give your dog things such as extra attention, treats or toys, when it looks sad, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Instead, it would help to reward it when it is not sad, to avoid rewarding it when it does unless necessary and to follow the other tips mentioned below.

It might not actually be sad

Often dogs will look sad when they are not actually sad. It might be the case that your dog is not actually sad. It might be showing some signs of excitement such as wagging its tail or having a relaxed face with its tongue out.

Fear

It could be the case that something has been causing it to become fearful when you are not around. Things that might make it afraid could include noises like construction works or possibly someone else or another pet being around that it does not like.

If it does seem to be fear that is causing it to look sad when you leave, it would help to try and figure out what it might be afraid of and to remove it from its environment if possible. Other options would be to have your dog stay in a different area or to do desensitization training. 

Injury or illness

The cause might also be that it has gotten an injury or illness. This would be more likely if your dog has started doing it suddenly, it has been behaving unusually in other ways and if it has been showing signs of having an injury or illness such as limping, vomiting or eating less. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet. 

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it. 

What is different when your dog does not look sad

If your dog does not always look sad, when you leave, it would help to consider what is different when it does not look sad. For example, if it doesn’t look sad when it has eaten, gotten exercise and been able to pee, it could be the case that it looks sad when it can’t get those things.

If it has always behaved that way

If your dog did not look sad when you used to leave, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior is rewarded, a change in its daily routine or injury or illness. 

What to do about your dog looking sad when you leave

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior. 

Ensure that it is getting the right diet

As mentioned above, it could be the case that it has been looking sad due to being hungry. It would help to ensure that your dog has been able to get enough calories and that it has been eating the correct foods. 

Give it exercise

If it is healthy, it would also help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed. 

Let it pee

It would also help to make sure to let it out to pee just before leaving it so that it does not have to wait too long.

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it could be the case that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not. 

Get help

If your dog has been behaving sad all the time, it would help to take it to the vet for a checkup. By doing so, you should be able to rule out medical causes and get expert advice tailored to your particular dog.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.